Hampton University Grads Form Equity Firm to Propel Black Investments

Carrington-M-Carter-Calvin-L-Butts-east-chop-capital
From left. Carrington M. Carter and Calvin L. Butts, founders of the private Black equity firm East Chop Capital. Image; courtesy of East Chop Capital.

Calvin L. Butts wasn’t planning to launch an equity firm when he began real estate investing more than a decade ago. Instead, he simply saw owning homes in various locations as a way to leverage his financial success in corporate America into extra income. “My savings was strong, and I’m thinking okay, how can I start investing?” Butts recalls. “So I started buying homes.”

The former pharmaceutical marketing and advertising professional started with homes in West Philadelphia before his growing family got him thinking about vacation rental homes. A pivot allowed Butts to take his family on trips—while simultaneously working—and get his wife and children involved in the burgeoning business. “I believe in this philosophy called ‘integrated life,’” Butts tells EBONY. “And it’s been great building this vacation empire with my family involved every step of the way.”

But on this journey, Butts realized the personal success that came with real estate was something he could offer to others. And after connecting with fellow Hampton University alumnus Carrington M. Carter, who was also in real estate investment, the two HBCU alums decided to launch a business that could parlay their achievements while helping others reach their goals. In 2018, East Chop Capital was born after the duo raised $4 million dollars and scaled their vacation home business. Through this venture Butts says people can join them on their journey and they’ll teach them how to replicate their financial success. “We’ll share everything that will help build a platform for you to invest with us, learn with us and also connect with us and other investors.” 

East Chop Capital is on a mission to develop strong businesses that positively impact the world, and boldly build wealth for its investors—whether that be in the area of real estate, media technology, sports or financial services. The broader vision of East Chop Capital is to be a different type of private equity firm by disrupting the traditional model. Butts explains that East Chop Capital’s commitment is to provide the best combined financial, educational and social returns. They do this by executing on their fund’s objectives, but also by hosting investor retreats, providing learning and professional development opportunities, and even helping investors analyze other deals that they may be considering. 

On his own, Butts has invested in several different vehicles that include hotels, delivery apps, beverage companies, and he was an early investor in Uncle Nearest, a Black-owned premium whiskey brand founded by EBONY 2021 Power 100 honoree Fawn Weaver. It’s why he says East Chop plans to expose its investor community and their investor base to deals outside of real estate. “Right now real estate is our foundation—it’s kind of our bread and butter. But eventually, we want to invest in a sports team. We want to eventually get involved in media distribution,” Butts says. It helps that they are a private equity firm with 100 plus investors, all of which are credit investors and many of which are people of color. 

“You got people reaching out to us because we’re able to raise capital from that demographic pretty quickly. And a lot of people will look at diversity when they look to put together their investor base,” Butts asserts. 

Though East Chop Capital has made its mark investing in specific entities, Butts is decidedly enthused by the opportunity to invest in other funds. To date, the firm has invested in Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six Capital, a new software-enabled venture firm focused on people, culture and community, as well as Hampton University grad Nasir Qadree’s Zeal Capital Partners, a new Washington, DC-based inclusive investment vehicle focused on partnering with entrepreneurs to bridge America’s wealth and skills gaps. 

“There’s a lot of ways for us to build wealth and help others build wealth, and that’s really what it’s all about,” Butts says. “Following folks who know what they’re doing, folks who are really passionate and engaged in a particular focus area and helping them fund those companies.”

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